Christchurch Major Cycleway: New breed of cycleway to attract more cyclists

Christchurch Major Cycleway: New breed of cycleway to attract more cyclists
If current proposals are anything to go by, Christchurch cyclists could well be the envy of self-propelled travellers across New Zealand.

With its flat topography, the city is already an ideal canvas for encouraging cycling as a mode of transport. And prior to the devastation caused by the earthquakes, plans were in place to develop a network of 13 major city cycle routes.  But as TDG principal design engineer George Eivers explains, just what comprises a cycleway has evolved as the thinking around the reconstruction and redevelopment of the city progresses.

“Basically the redevelopment of Christchurch presents a unique opportunity to approach development with a fresh perspective.”

Encouraging cyclists

George worked on proposals for the Little River Cycleway, a pedestrian and cyclist carriageway that will link new residential development in the south west of the city to the central city. Extending 1.6 kilometres, the cycleway starts at Barrington Road in Addington and ends at the southern reaches of Hagley Park.

“A year ago, we were engaged to develop a standard cycleway that was 2.5 metres wide, from start to finish.”

However, timing is everything. The planning for the Little River Cycleway was taking shape at the same time as the Council was working on its Cycle Design Guidelines. George explains that it was as the Guidelines developed that a shift in thinking occurred about that simple 2.5 metre solution.

“Effectively, the question was asked ‘what are we doing here?’ That if we want to create a cycleway that is going to increase the number of travellers choosing to cycle and decrease the use of cars, then we need to build a cycle-friendly facility that will actually do that.”

Experience shows that cycleways are least effective when they are merely retrofitted onto existing infrastructure. Such solutions still tend to be vehicle centric, which inhibits take up.

George says the new version of the cycleway is very much focused on the cyclist. Instead of 2.5 metres wide, it is 4 metres in width for the entire length, with separation between cyclists and pedestrians. The structure features a good surface for cycling, including a new curb profile that makes for a much smoother ride. 

A balance of considerations

Improving the delivered product has come with its challenges. Most of the route runs through residential areas, which brings into play issues such as vehicles reversing out of driveways onto the cycleway. The route also travels through an historic area, Church Square, where there’s an avenue of mature plane trees with varieties sourced from around the world. “So decisions had to be made weighing the aesthetics of the route versus the preservation of these historic trees.” 

And the route crosses the Southern Motorway, which triggers a raft of safety considerations. Consequently, the project has involved working alongside and in consultation with an extensive array of interested parties – the Council, NZTA, arborists, safety audits and cycling advocates

TDG prepared a scheme design report and recently assisted with the public consultation process. It is clear from the public feedback that what started as a very standard solution has turned into a flagship route that will see more cycles getting people into town.

Tagged traffic engineering, transportation planning, geometric design, road safety, sustainability.
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